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Pentax 645D versus Pentax K-1

The Pentax 645D and the Pentax K-1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2010 and February 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (645D) and a full frame (K-1) sensor. The 645D has a resolution of 39.5 megapixel, whereas the K-1 provides 36.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Pentax 645D vs Pentax K-1

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Pentax 645D and the Pentax K-1. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 645D – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Pentax 645D vs Pentax K-1
Compare 645D versus K-1 top
Compare 645D and K-1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-1 is notably smaller (17 percent) than the Pentax 645D. Moreover, the K-1 is markedly lighter (32 percent) than the 645D. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Pentax 645D» 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.7 in 52.2 oz 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995- i
Pentax K-1« 5.4 in 4.3 in 3.4 in 35.6 oz 760 Y Feb 2016 1,799- i
Canon 1D X« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i
Leica S Typ 006« » 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2012 21,950- i
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D800« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D3S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i
Olympus E-M1 II« » 5.3 in 3.6 in 2.6 in 20.2 oz 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Pentax K-1 II« » 5.4 in 4.3 in 3.4 in 35.6 oz 670 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Pentax 645Z« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.8 in 54.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2014 8,499 i i
Sony A99 II« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A7R II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The K-1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 82 percent) than the 645D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Pentax 645D vs Pentax K-1

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Pentax 645D features a medium format sensor and the Pentax K-1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the K-1 is 41 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.79 and 1.0. The sensor in the 645D has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the K-1 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Pentax 645D and Pentax K-1 sensor measures

With 39.5MP, the 645D offers a slightly higher resolution than the K-1 (36.2MP), but the 645D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.06μm versus 4.88μm for the K-1) due to its larger sensor. However, the K-1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 years and 11 months) than the 645D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

Unlike the 645D, the K-1 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).

645D versus K-1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the K-1 offers substantially better image quality than the 645D (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Pentax 645D» Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440-24.612.6126282
Pentax K-1« Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60i25.414.6328096
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
Leica S Typ 006« » Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000-23.912.282476
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
Nikon D800« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
Pentax K-1 II« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60i----
Pentax 645Z« » Medium Format 51.1 8256 61921080/60i26.014.74505101
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The K-1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 645D does not. The highest resolution format that the K-1 can use is 1080/60i.

 

Feature comparison: Pentax 645D vs Pentax K-1

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 645D and the K-1 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Pentax 645D and Pentax K-1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Pentax 645D»optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 1.1 n n
Pentax K-1«optical Y 3.2 1037 full-flex n 8000 4.4 n Y
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n
Leica S Typ 006« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 4000 1.5 n n
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D800« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y
Pentax K-1 II« »optical Y 3.2 1037 full-flex n 8000 4.4 n Y
Pentax 645Z« »optical Y 3.2 1037 tilting n 4000 3.0 n n
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n

Both the 645D and the K-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 645D was replaced by the Pentax 645Z, while the K-1 was followed by the Pentax K-1 II.

Review summary: Pentax 645D vs Pentax K-1

So how do things add up? Is the Pentax 645D better than the Pentax K-1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Pentax 645D:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2010).


Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-1:

  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 921k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.4 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (137x110mm vs 156x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 470g or 32 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (82 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 11 months of technical progress since the 645D launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the K-1 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 1 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

645D 01:15 K-1

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 645D or the K-1. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Pentax 645D»---4.5/5- Mar 2010 9,995- i
Pentax K-1«-84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2016 1,799- i
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i
Leica S Typ 006« »----- Sep 2012 21,950- i
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D800« »HiRec82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Pentax K-1 II« »-79/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Pentax 645Z« »--4.5/55/55/5 Apr 2014 8,499 i i
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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